Mountain Lions: Attack Man, Eat Human, Attack Dogs, Unafraid

Picture by Caldwell family, with permission. Cropped by Dean Weingarten

U.S.A.-( Mountain lion populations are on the increase and pose significant threats to unarmed humans.  Mountain lions were involved in a flurry of interaction with humans in the last two weeks of 2019.

On 26 December 2019, Gary Gorney was hunting pheasants with his two dogs, in the Custer Mine hunting area near Minot, North Dakota. His dogs alerted him to something ahead. Instead of a pheasant, a large female mountain lion charged him out of the grass. He shot and killed the lion with his 9mm pistol.


Gorney said he was talking on his cell phone when his German shorthair, Milly, went on point. He put the cell phone in his pocket with the expectation that a rooster pheasant was about to take flight. Instead, a large female mountain lion emerged from the tall grass and came right at him.

“I dropped my dad’s 100-year-old double-barrel, I don’t even remember doing that, and went for the sidearm that I carry with me underneath my jacket,” said Gorney. “My instincts as a military law enforcement officer took over. There was no thought process. It was self-defense.”

The mountain lion was within 10 feet of Gorney when it was hit by a bullet from Gorney’s 9-millimeter handgun.

On the last day of the year, in 2019, near the Pine Canyon trailhead, a few miles Northeast of Tucson, Arizona, Pima County Sheriff deputies discovered three mountain lions were feeding on a human body.  The three lions were unafraid of people. The lions did not flee as officers approached. They were feeding on the body within sight of human homes. From

“Mountain lions are not routinely scavengers,” said Regional Supervisor Raul Vega of AZGFD in Tucson. “A mountain lion eating human remains is abnormal behavior. Those that do are more likely to attack a human being in the future. In addition, they did so 50 yards from a popular hiking trail and within sight of homes, and repeatedly showed no fear of responding officers. They were a clear and present danger to public safety.”

The official line is the cause of death of the human has not been determined. As noted, mountain lions ordinarily kill their own prey, rather than feed on carrion. It is often difficult to determine the cause of death after a body has been mostly consumed.

All three lions were killed, for the purposes of public safety.

In the week before Christmas, 2019, mountain lions attacked five pet dogs in the Wood River Valley in Idaho.  From

The latest is the fifth mountain lion attack on dogs in the past week in the Wood River Valley, Fish and Game spokesman Terry Thompson said Monday in a statement. Three dogs have died due to the attacks.

The dogs attacked included an Australian Shepard, a pudelpointer, and a Labrador. The attacks happened in back yards and near residences.

As protections of mountain lions have ramped up in the last 40 years, mountain lion populations have increased. Increasing lion and human populations have lead to more interactions. As lions learn that humans and dogs are not to be feared, there have been more attacks. Humans that are armed can usually stop an attack and kill the cat. It is a surprise attack that is considered the most dangerous.

Given that caveat, I have not found a single instance where a human armed with a firearm, was killed by a mountain lion.

If readers know of such a case, please share it in the comments.

About Dean Weingarten:Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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Any large predator with state sanctioned protections will lose all fear of man. Even those who are hunted can lose the fear if they inhabit areas in and around man’s settlements. Recent dog killings in Idaho show the trend in areas where dwellings are being established in sparsely populated regions. The lions are able to infiltrate inhabited areas where hunting is limited or not allowed. I have that situation right in my back yard, although the lions here are strictly nocturnal they leave tracks in the snow..


“Any large predator with state sanctioned protections will lose all fear of man.”
This sentence applies equally well whether the “predator” has four legs or two.

Deplorable Bill

Yup, that is way too close to people to put up with. If they are feeding on human remains within site of houses it’s only a matter of time before a kid goes for a walk and doesn’t come back. When you have attacks on dogs in a residential area, it’s time to go hunting. Some years ago, we had a cat out here that was chewing up horses. There were dog and cat disappearances about then as well. Can’t remember exactly what happened but mountain lion is white meat.

Arm up, carry on.


Gary Gorney, quick reaction and good marksmanship on your part! Glad you were not injured. Love that picture of a youngster who likes to hunt!


It is believed by animal rights people that the game herds are taken down by humans through hunting. That is the biggest lie out there in the realm of game hunting. The lion is a predator, a lion will eat one deer or elk yearling per week. that makes at the least 52 animals per year. Multiply that by a thousand and you can get the idea of how many game animals are eaten per week. No hunting season produces that number in the week to 9 days of the season. I used the 1,000 number as an example, there… Read more »


Most animal rights people have no comprehension of the balance of nature. They want to protect ALL living creatures from any and all things that could cause death. Such an attitude leads to over population of the strongest predators which leads to over harvesting of what nature intended for them to eat. When food gets scarce, they will hunt whatever they can find including humans.


Try telling that to an animal rights person, they are so dense the truth goes right over their heads.


I would speculate that most of the people killed and/or eaten by cougars are NOT conservatives, which is a really good thing. Those cats shouldn’t be killed, they should be allowed to reduce the leftist populations in those areas. God gave us all a brain, problem is leftists have lost theirs!


WE have lots of mountain lions here in Northern Arizona and they are hunted legally and often sighted by folks in the woods and communities, yet no attacks have occurred. Years ago in New Mexico, the state banned lion hunting while conducting “mountain lion studies” over several years resulting in an explosion of the mountain lion population resulting in attacks on livestock, pets and the total elimination of deer and bighorn sheep in some areas. Incursions into cities skyrocketed and many lions were shot in towns, but few if any human attacks occurred. If you are armed, as is legal… Read more »


His military and LE instincts kicked in so he dropped his shotgun? Really?


After having done thousands of draws in training dropping whatever’s in your hands sounds normal.


Shotguns are generally only used by LE in riots or surprise warrant searches. Most of their training and use is with handguns. As he said, “no thought process, just self defense.” Call is muscle memory. Whatever, he killed the cat and saved his own life.


Maybe he’s French…?

Old Ch.E.

The double barrel would have been my preferred weapon. Doubt it could run through two loads of #6 to the head. Would have held still for the 9mm afterwards I bet. We were talking about lions at a party the other night. Research amazed me with the fact that mountain lions have been recorded in EVERY county in Texas except a few in the extreme panhandle.Probably more cougars then mountain lions in Houston I’ll bet. When I was in Kansas City I had a little horse ranch outside of town. One morning something out of this world screamed on the… Read more »


First off, who hunts with a double barrel shotgun? When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to get a pump. Two shots, with a couple of shells in between my frozen fingers were a real motivator to upgrade.
He would have had to unzip his coat…with a charging cat…not in this lifetime, he would have given it both barrels and then gone for his pistol. I smell a rat!